Back at Mario's Restaurant in Tomas Morato
We all know that Metro Manila is literally bursting with so many restaurants, cafes, eateries and foodie spots found all over the 16 cities and 1 municipality of the region. I've lived there for 20+ years of my life and I can say that I still have a lifetime to go if I seriously want to try at least half of all the restaurants available. Despite the big number, when it comes to dining out with my family to celebrate a special occasion, we would always have just a handful of choices to choose from.
For my birthday this year, I was able to pre-celebrate it with my family a few days before the actual day. Yay! We started our dinner with our favorite Caesar Salad (Php. 260) which Pan and I just love as it gets prepared by our table-side and it's always fun to watch the server expertly mix our salad using the very traditional wooden salad bowl.
It's amazing how the taste remained so spot on all these years. The iceberg lettuce so fresh and crisp, the crunchy bacon bits and croutons, the tiny slivers of anchovies and of course, the creamy caesar dressing that is so hard to recreate. This is one thing we never miss whenever we dine at Mario's.
Aside from the Caesar Salad, another family favorite is the Gambas al Ajillo (Php. 325) which we all love! The best way to eat this is to place it on top of the complimentary bread and to eat it like a giant canape. Next, you use more bread to mop up the yummy gambas oil on the plate. Sometimes, we would ask that the server leave the plate of oil on the table and we would drizzle it onto our rice too. Yes, not the healthiest but I promise you, it will get your swooning with gastronomic delight.
For our mains, we also have our personal favorites. Papa will always have the A la Pobre (Php. 630) which is a nice thick cut of steak that's perfectly grilled and served with chopped garlic. It's normally served with mashed potatoes but you can opt to have it changed to rice or with more grilled vegetables.
As for Pan and I, we love the Lengua con Setas (Php. 495) which is a tender slice of ox tongue cooked with wine, mushroom and olives. I really enjoy how it melts in your mouth and it's just so soft and tender that I would end up eating this so fast. Ugh!
In the middle, we also ordered another family favorite -- the Paella Valenciana (Php. 675). Sadly though, this was the only thing which we felt failed to match up to our expectations. Somehow, the paella was missing our favorite tutong (soccarat) and it was just too wet closely similar to a risotto. The toppings were just okay as there was mix of prawns, crabs, chicken, egg, mussels and veggies. Oh, what a disappointment! We even remembered how Mommy would call Mario's Restaurant in advance just to place an order of the paella before. I think we will skip this on our next visit.
Don't look at me. I'm not the only picky eater in the family! Obviously, my picky taste must have originated from somewhere, right? ;) As the person who frequents the very few places that he loves to dine in, my Dad has quite a growing list of requirements whenever we go out to celebrate someone's birthday or a family milestone. Clean ambiance? Check! Delicious, high quality food? Check! Serves steak or beef? Check check check! So far, Mario's Restaurant has passed his standards with flying colors thus, this has been one of our go to places for a nice family dinner since the 1980s.
A lot of changes have been made to the menu. It's much more extensive now but there's still the usual popular ones such as the dishes I've mentioned earlier as well as the show-stopping Mango Jubilee where the server will flambe, once again, by the table-side. I was also thrilled when they wheeled out the dessert cart where all of the day's cakes and pies selection can be found. I didn't know they still do that till today. My favorite is the Fruit Jello. It's very simple but it's what I would always get since I was a kid.
Oh, dining at Mario's Restaurant never fails to bring back a lot of good memories. I'm glad that our family still gets to go back from time to time and we would always go home with a happy smile on our faces.
Check our Mario's Restaurant at 191 Tomas Morato avenue corner Scout Gandia, Quezon City. Call them at 372-0360 / 415-3887 / 376-6210.